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The 5 things you must include in a content proposal

By June 13, 2018 June 29th, 2019 4 Comments

We’ve all heard that content is king. Nearly every business has a website and in order to creep up the Google rankings content needs to be updated regularly. Blog posts are an ideal way of doing that and many companies are looking for freelance writers and copywriters to pen their posts and other content, such as newsletters or EDMs. So what do you need to put in a proposal to ensure you have the best chance of landing a content writing gig? 

What to include in a content proposal  

I must admit I’m not a huge fan of writing content proposals. When I first started out as a freelance writer I found that after an initial phone call with a potential client, writing a proposal could still take a fair bit of time, even if it was just a one page services proposal. 

I initially bought one of the rate sheet templates from the Clever Copywriting School, and over time I have tweaked, added and adjusted to fit my needs. 

Before you start writing your content proposal, you need to wrestle with one of the trickiest questions that freelance writers get asked: What’s your rate?

If you can, steer away from hourly rates.

I know of too many instances where writers are told their hourly rate is too high only for the same writer to translate that into a per blog rate and for a client not to bat an eyelid! 

Kate Toon has an excellent resource for copywriters wondering how much they should charge, but I’ve found that most mid-level freelance writers charge between $75 – $110/hour. This doesn’t mean that you quote that rate to the client, but it helps you work out what your overall rate per project will be. 

Then if you can work out how long the blog post, EDM or newsletter will take you (and build in a little fat in case you hit bumps along the way) multiply that by your hourly rate and quote that as your overall rate (but specify how many words or range of words). 

I know that’s quite a lot of information, so to make it a bit clearer here’s a real life example:

I ghostwrite 400- 500 word blogs for one corporate client (who found me on LinkedIn) and I charge $280+GST.

The client initially thought this was pretty high and I felt it was on the low side! But this client runs a small business so I do understand that producing content is a big cost and she wants to make sure it’s a worthwhile investment. 

As I said before I don’t like to spend lots of time on content proposals, but I do like to be clear about my rates and what clients will get for their money.  

I only write for a couple of small businesses these days, but I have written quite a few blog proposals since I started freelance writing six years ago. 

I’ve found there are 5 things you absolutely must include in your proposals.

5 items that must be in your content proposal

1. Type of project/content (e.g. article, blog post, newsletter, EDM, social media posts), the approximate word count and the cost to the client.

E.g. Article or blog post for website: 400 – 500 words, $280+GST per blog. 

2. Brief summary of the service you’ll provide

E.g. Researching and writing blog articles for your website that include page titles and meta descriptions.

3. Detail the inclusions (and exclusions if there are any)

E.g. Article based on detailed brief by client (this requires them to do more work fleshing out what exactly they want covered) – I’d charge more if you have to come up with the ideas!

How many interviews (if any) are included.

1 headline suggestion

 2 social media snippets for LinkedIn and Twitter

Includes one round of amends and proofreading

4. Payment terms

E.g. 50% payable before project commences, 50% after client sign off. In an ideal world, you’d be on a retainer so you’d be writing a set number of blogs a month for the client at a particular rate.

Things to consider

Think about whether you’ll write SEO optimised content (e.g. you could ask the client for the keywords that they want to rank for in Google) and if you’ll include hyperlinks to high authority sites.  

If you think your rate will be knocked back you can always present a proposal with a more expensive option and a cheaper second option where you cut out some of the offerings (such as interviews or social media snippets). 

I also offer clients a ‘block’ of blog articles, so that they can purchase 5 blogs x 500 words at a slightly reduced rate. 

You also want to make sure that the person you are talking to is the person who has the ultimate approval.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had conversations with potential clients about the reason why they want to create content. I always like to ask about the results they want to see  – are they aiming to educate their audience, grow a readership, raise awareness, sell more products? Who is their audience? How will they know if the content is having the desired effect? 

You might include a summary in your proposal that looks something like this:

Objective of the project:

The creation of regular blog content that has a young, fresh, quirky tone and style.

·      Create an editorial strategy and calendar to drive blog topics and posts

·      Produce high-quality blog posts at a consistent rate

·      Repurpose the content into other mediums

·      Increase inbound marketing leads through blog subscriptions

·      Enhance [company’s] status as a thought leader

I’ve found that the clients who have a clear idea of what they want to achieve with the content are more likely to be better communicators (hence give you clear briefs) and are likely to stick with you in the long term. 

Do you write content proposals? Do you have any other tips for what to include in a proposal for a potential client?


  • Claire says:

    I love how detailed your proposals are. And also the retainer, that’s a good thing. I am out of pocket on a project at the moment as the client has had cash flow problems. If I’d had half up front at least I would have been paid something for it. Strategy is a really important part I think, getting the client to think about the bigger picture and develop a coherent plan, rather than coming up with posts one at a time and finding they don’t really hang together well. A great tip about getting the client to identify exactly what they want the blog post to do as well, that can have a big difference on what is produced.

    • Lindy Alexander says:

      Oh Claire, what a pain for you with your client having cash flow problems. I hope they come through with your payments soon.
      I have found that lots of organisations (mostly small businesses) haven’t really thought about what they want the content to do for them and how they will know when it has ‘worked’ – they just feel like they "should" be producing content. But I don’t think there’s any point just throwing words out there and hoping they will have an impact.

  • Domani Madigan says:

    Lindy, this is so helpful; clear, easy to follow advice – thank you! I had done a fair bit of hunting around online for a simple explanation on how to put together a content proposal and am so grateful to have found this post. TFY is my go to!

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